We were sitting in the front garden at the weekend. It was lovely and warm underfoot, and I was seated on a Graham-made bench, under the overhanging cotoneaster.
This is a shrub we got from a cutting, years ago, from Graham's mum. It doesn't really look a lot, it is mainly green and branchy, but it is covered with tiny pink, spherical flowers. So tiny they really aren't worth mentioning, except that the bees love them!
It was lovely seeing the bees, and there were a lot of them, flitting from flower to flower, and it is nice to think that we have a garden which is good for all sorts of wild life.
Mind you the wild life does seem to like the house too. The other night there was a thud from the kitchen, it was the sound of a young starling trying to nut its way out of the front window. Graham managed to get it to flutter upwards to the open small light, and out it flew.
Today Graham was cutting the lawn, and round the back, under the shade of the Belladonna, he noticed a hole in the dry earth. It looked like the entrance to a vole's hole, but as he watched, a bumblebee emerged and flew off. He called me out to look just as another bumblebee flew in, and while I watched, yet another little bee flew into the hole. So they definitely have a nest under there, and they do look like some of the bees which were on the cotoneaster.
We do get a lot of different kinds of bees in the garden, lots of different sizes and colours. It isn't until you start looking closely that you realise that bees come in quite a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are like a hairy honey colour, others are stripy and can have a red, white or a black bum. Some are tiny things the size of a baby's fingernail, others are great flying fluffy zepelins, with the directional control of a balloon. Those seem to be mainly the ones that blunder into the house and make rumbly farting noises in the window, until we get them in a glass and take them outside again.
We had a lovely teasel grew in the garden one year and early one morning we got up to find a large bumblebee asleep on the teasel. It looked so fluffy that I very gently stroked it, and in its sleepy state the bee lifted a back leg and waved it around as if to say, 'Gerroff!'
In ancient Greece the souls of the dead were sometimes believed to take the form of bees, and bees are believed to be very magical creatures, probably because they produced the first sweet stuff humans ever came across, honey.
It is said that bees should be told of any death on the house, or they will leave their hive and fly away. It used to be believed that you should never sell or buy bees for money, but should offer goods of the equivalent amount. In the 18th century the price of a hive of bees was a small pig.
Bees are also only supposed to stay in a place where there is peace and harmony - and one should especially avoid having a row anywhere near a bee hive, or the bees will go and find a home elsewhere.